Belize and the EU

Keeping the Memory Alive - Holocaust survivors tell their story through an innovative video project

25/01/2021 - 12:43
News stories

To mark this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an innovative video project of Holocaust survivors will be shown on the walls of the “Beth Yaacov” Great Synagogue of Geneva from 25 – 31 January 2021. The official opening of the exhibition took place on 25 January in the presence of the Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva.

 

On 27 January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we commemorate the six million Jewish women, men, and children, as well as all other victims of Nazism murdered during World War II. On this day, 76 years ago, the Allied Forces liberated the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they discovered unspeakable horrors.

To mark this important day, the EU Delegation to the UN and the Israeli Mission in Geneva together with UNOG, the Communauté Israélite de Genève, and the World Jewish Congress have organised an exclusive Testimony Exhibition, showcased from 25-31 January on the walls of the Beth Yaacov Great Synagogue of Geneva. The projection is based on the University of Southern California (USC) Shoah Foundation’s project entitled ‘Dimensions in Testimony’, an interactive project that enables people to ask questions that prompt real-time responses from pre-recorded video interviews with Holocaust survivors. Video extracts of ‘Dimensions in Testimony’ will be projected every day from 25-31 January from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.[1] on the walls of the Synagogue, to encourage passers-by to listen to their stories, to visit the dedicated website and to have a personal conversation with two Holocaust survivors. The website has created, through specialized display technologies and next generation natural language processing, an interactive biography, giving the visitor the opportunity to have conversational experiences with the survivor.

The official opening of the exhibition took place on 25 January in front of the Beth Yaacov Great Synagogue in the presence of the Ambassadors of the European Union and of Israel, a representative of the CIG (Communauté Israélite de Genève), the President of the Council of the Canton of Geneva, Anne Emery-Torracinta, as well as the Director General of UNOG and other organisers. Due to the current Covid-19 related restrictions, the inauguration took place without a public audience but the opening was live-streamed on social media.

The Holocaust is the darkest moment of European and humanity's history, and modern European history has been built on the premise ‘Never again’”, underlined EU Ambassador Walter Stevens. “The painful testimonies of survivors remind us ‘never to forget’ and to unite in the face of antisemitism, racism and hatred. We need to ensure to keep their memories alive as the number of survivors is dwindling. This is why the project of the USC Shoah Foundation is so valuable.”

As Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and racism continue to rise throughout the globe, it is essential to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, especially as time passes, and fewer and fewer people who witnessed first-hand the horrors of the Holocaust are able to share their stories. Education must therefore be at the centre of our efforts against antisemitism”, said Israeli Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar. “We need to embrace the role and importance of technology and innovation - such as the Dimensions in Testimony project from the USC Shoah Foundation- to ensure future generations learn about the lessons of the Holocaust, the dire consequences of hate, and make sure history never repeats itself.”

As the number of survivors worldwide dwindles, the concept of interactive biographies is a very innovative way of making sure the voice of Holocaust survivors is not lost, and that their stories continue to be told for generations to come,” highlighted Tatiana ValovayaDirector-General of the United Nations in Geneva. “We are very grateful to the European Union, the Permanent Mission of Israel and other partners for making this outdoor exhibition possible.”

The World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said: “Amidst a global rise of antisemitism and frighteningly increasing levels of misinformation and hate speech, the importance of acknowledging the lessons learned from the horrors of the Holocaust and remembering the victims and survivors is critical. This testimonial exhibition broadcast on the walls of the historic Beth Yaacov Synagogue is an innovative means of countering attempts to deny and distort the truths of the Holocaust, in order to achieve a world free of genocide.”

The President of the CIG Roseline Cisier stressed: "As the last witnesses pass away, it is wonderful that through artificial intelligence, the survivors can continue to pass on their experiences and their universal message to future generations."

Live-streamed opening ceremony: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=115550970375743&ref=watch_permalink 

 

Dedicated website for this project

This dedicated website is accessible until 8 February 2021 where visitors have the possibility to interact with two Holocaust survivors: https://dimensionsintestimony.org/remembrance

 

About “Dimensions in Testimony”

Dimensions in Testimony was developed in association with Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, with technology by USC Institute for Creative Technologies, and concept by Conscience Display. Funding for Dimensions in Testimony was provided in part by Pears Foundation, Louis. F. Smith, Melinda Goldrich and Andrea Cayton/Goldrich Family Foundation in honor of Jona Goldrich, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and Genesis Philanthropy Group (R.A.). Other partners include CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Fritzie Fritzshall and Izzy Starck were filmed in association with Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Eva Kor was filmed in association with CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Lea Novera was filmed in association with Museo del Holocausto Buenos Aires. Asia Schindelman was filmed with the support of Genesis Philanthropy Group. Anita Lasker-Wallfisch was filmed with the support of The EVZ Foundation.

More information about the USC Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimonyhttps://sfi.usc.edu/dit

The Holocaust Remembrance Day was initiated by the United Nations in 2005 and has been since marked each year by international organisations and governments around the world.

 

 

Press contacts:

Antje Knorr

Head of Communications, EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva

Antje.knorr@eeas.europa.eu/(link sends e-mail) 0786202950

 

Nathan Chicheportiche

Public Diplomacy Officer, Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN in Geneva

publicdiplomacy@geneva.mfa.gov.il(link sends e-mail) / +41 76 417 63 70

 

For questions about Dimensions in Testimony, contact Mr. Phillip Wood: pw_570@usc.edu

 

[1] No projection on Friday 29 January, and Saturday 30 January only starting from 6.30 p.m.

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